Ex-Mindoro official charged in quarrying
MANILA, Philippines—A former Occidental Mindoro mayor and representative, who was sentenced to death but was later acquitted in the 1997 murder of the sons of his political rival, has been indicted on 10 counts of graft for allegedly unlawfully issuing extraction permits to quarry operators.
The Office of the Ombudsman has approved the filing of a criminal complaint in the Sandiganbayan against Jose Villarosa for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he was mayor of San Jose.
Villarosa is alleged to have illegally awarded 10 extraction permits to several private quarry companies from 2010 to 2011 without authority from the Occidental Mindoro provincial governor’s office.
Villarosa was the mayor of San Jose from 2010 to 2013. He had served as Occidental Mindoro representative from 1992 to 1998.
The Ombudsman cited Section 138 of Republic Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code, which explicitly states that only governors are authorized to issue extraction permits “within their respective territorial jurisdiction and to levy and collect taxes therefrom.”
“Contrary to Villarosa’s self-serving interpretation of the law, the provisions of Section 138… are plain, straightforward and unambiguous,” the Ombudsman said.
It said that there was “no merit” in the former mayor’s explanation that the phrase “the province may levy and collect” in the law “operates as tacit permission for the municipality to also levy and collect.”
“The authority of the governor to levy taxes and regulate the extraction of sand, gravel and other quarry resources in the province is singular and exclusive,” it stressed.
The Ombudsman said Villarosa’s grant of extraction permits to the quarry operators “indubitably gave unwarranted benefits to the grantees of the permits.”
“It is clear that the persons who have been granted extraction permits by [Villarosa] by virtue of the authority he unlawfully arrogated unto himself were able to exercise a privilege they did not deserve,” it said.
In 1998, when he was the representative of the province, Villarosa was criminally charged for the Dec. 13, 1997, killing of brothers Michael and Paul Quintos, the sons of his political nemesis, Ricardo Quintos.
Along with six farmers, who were collectively known as the “Mamburao 6,” Villarosa was found guilty and sentenced to death by a Quezon City court in March 2006.
The Court of Appeals, however, reversed the lower court ruling two years later, triggering speculation that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had used her influence to save the husband of her friend and loyal ally, Amelita Villarosa, who had succeeded her husband to the congressional seat. Marlon Ramos
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.